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Venice VR Review - "Bonfire" by Eric Darnell and "Passenger" Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine

Passenger - Photo Courtesy of Film Camp Aliens of a feather by Anna Reeves Two virtual realty experiences that are particularly well realised at Venice this year are "Bonfire" by Eric Darnell at Baobab Studios in the States and "Passenger" by Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine from Australia. They are polar opposites in that one utilises high-end animation with powerful A.I. and the other feels handmade from fingers and glue, yet both leave you with an overriding sense of&...

Leakage | Nasht by Suzan Iravanian (Forum): Berlinale Review

  Foziye’s husband, an employee in the regional oil company, has vanished into thin air. Although her questions remain unanswered about his whereabouts, her faith prevails that he is still alive. During her visit at the local pension centre, she still replies “married” when her marital status is requested. Her life has metamorphosed into an arduous journey, considering her financial hardship and lack of work. Her mother incriminates her inertia, whilst her daughter ince...

The Golden Glove by Fatih Akin: Berlinale Review

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Meager, for the most part, is the attempt by Fatih Akin to recreate the unambitious life of Fritz Honka, a schizophrenic killer who, in the seventies of Hamburg, brutally murders and dismembers four prostitutes in his hideous attic.    Unquestionably crowned the most abominable film of 2019, Akin&...

Review of "Aziza" + Interview with Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner, Soudade Kaadan

  I had the honor this week to connect with the incredibly talented, Short Film Grand Jury Prize Winner, Soudade Kaadan. Her story may be one of the most important in the whole festival. As a Syrian filmmaker, she has experienced more hardships than any American filmmaker can imagine. She does not have nearly the same resources as many of her competitors yet she still manages to make high caliber film that is enjoyable even without its profound political context.   Her fil...

"Honey Boy" - Review

The U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Vision and Craft winner, Honey Boy was the true winner of Sundance. No movie will come out of the festival with more hype than Honey Boy. This heart wrenching, semi-biographical account of fatherly abuse touched the hearts of many. It screened to multiple standing ovations and was nearly impossible to watch with packed tents full of eager cinephiles lined up in hopes of seeing Shia LaBeouf’s latest masterpiece. Personally, I tried a total of four ...

Review of "Aziza" + Interview with Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner, Soudade Kaadan

  I had the honor this week to connect with the incredibly talented, Short Film Grand Jury Prize Winner, Soudade Kaadan. Her story may be one of the most important in the whole festival. As a Syrian filmmaker, she has experienced more hardships than any American filmmaker can imagine. She does not have nearly the same resources as many of her competitors yet she still manages to make high caliber film that is enjoyable even without its profound political context.   Her film, Aziz...

"Big Time Adolescence" - Review From Sundance

First time director Jason Orley, alongside budding star Pete Davidson, unleash an emotionally draining yet cheerfully humorous coming of age story with Big Time Adolescence. The film leaves you both regretting the terrible decisions of your youth while longing for those days at the same time. It ultimately asks the question if bad decisions as an adolescent are a healthy, normal part of life, or pitfalls we ought to avoid. Big Time Adolescence is the type of movie that just may blow up as a ...

"Big Time Adolescence" - Review From Sundance

First time director Jason Orley, alongside budding star Pete Davidson, unleash an emotionally draining yet cheerfully humorous coming of age story with Big Time Adolescence. The film leaves you both regretting the terrible decisions of your youth while longing for those days at the same time. It ultimately asks the question if bad decisions as an adolescent are a healthy, normal part of life, or pitfalls we ought to avoid. Big Time Adolescence is the type of movie that just may blow up as a ...

"Little Monsters" - Review from Sundance

In a festival full of artistically layered and creatively structured films, Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters stands out by telling a classic three-act narrative with predictable beats that lead to an ending we’ve all seen before. Usually, that would not be a compliment in my book, however, this film executes it’s ‘save the cat’ style story to perfection. It gives the audience everything they want in a film. It is chock-full of humor that has the crowd boisterous thr...

"The Farewell" - Review from Sundance

As a Chinese-American filmmaker myself, there is a special place in my heart for Chinese-American film. The consistently negative depictions of Asians in American film-culture instilled a sense of shame in me that translated to hiding the fact that I was Asian from many people up until early adulthood. Being mixed, that was generally not too difficult and it was an easier way to navigate life. The only way to truly fix this problem is by people like Lulu Wang succeeding. She absolutely does so...

"The Last Black Man in San Francisco" - Review from Sundance

Not many movies can move at a sedated pace without putting the majority of the audience to sleep. Joe Talbot’s Last Black Man on Earth is the rare exception. The film flows like the still waters of the San Francisco Bay, by telling a melancholic story of gentrification and the pain that losing a childhood home brings. It is a beautiful depiction of poverty and class struggle that teaches those who have not personally experienced gentrification, what it feels like to be backed into a corn...

"The Farewell" - Review from Sundance

As a Chinese-American filmmaker myself, there is a special place in my heart for Chinese-American film. The consistently negative depictions of Asians in American film-culture instilled a sense of shame in me that translated to hiding the fact that I was Asian from many people up until early adulthood. Being mixed, that was generally not too difficult and it was an easier way to navigate life. The only way to truly fix this problem is by people like Lulu Wang succeeding. She absolutely does so...

"Little Monsters" - Review

In a festival full of artistically layered and creatively structured films, Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters stands out by telling a classic three-act narrative with predictable beats that lead to an ending we’ve all seen before. Usually, that would not be a compliment in my book, however, this film executes it’s ‘save the cat’ style story to perfection. It gives the audience everything they want in a film. It is chock-full of humor that has the crowd boisterous thr...

"Marshall from Detroit" - A Review of the VR experience at Sundance

Eminem is one of the greatest rappers to ever exist. Sway Calloway is the best hip-hop journalist and radio personality in the world. The two come together to have a patient conversation about some of Eminem's roots in Detroit, utilizing a medium that usually gets attributed to a modern aesthetic. However, with Eminem and Sway Calloway being such rich fixtures of hip-hop history, the aesthetic is grainy and has a vintage feel to it.    The 20 minute short is a VR experience that...

"Ms. Purple" - Review from Sundance

Unique, relatable, tragic yet hopeful. Truly, this was a simple film that was well crafted, blending powerful storytelling with gorgeous cinematography, as it paints LA's Koreatown in such a way that has not really been done before. The story is about a beautiful, once promising, young Korean girl struggling in Los Angeles, supporting her terminally ill father by means of a salacious profession. The call to action occurs as her father's caretaker quits, forcing her to reach out to h...

"Velvet Buzzsaw" - Review from Sundance

“Critique is so limiting and emotionally draining.” - Morf Vandewalt   Uninspired, a total lack of originality, derivative, void of spiritual awareness. These are only a few of the harsh critiques that Gyllenhaal fires off as he moves briskly from scene to scene, emoting in such a way that we have not seen from the Nightcrawler actor.   Dan Gilroy and Jake Gyllenhaal reunite for a brutally comedic satire on the world of fine art. They cover art’s destructive nat...

"The Report" - Review from Sundance

The Report, directed by Scott Z. Burns, has everything that Hollywood loves; A-list male leads in Adam Driver and Jon Hamm, it's based on a true story, it's political, it’s relevant and it’s made by a proven director. Similar films like Argo and Spotlight have enjoyed massive success in both the box office and critically, and I don't see The Report being any different. The film follows Daniel Jones, played by Adam Driver, as he spends half a decade building a report o...

MOVIE REVIEW: GOOD TIME

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Since Nightcrawler, no film has better distilled American malaise better than the Safdie brothers’ ironically-named Good Time (2017). The film stars Robert Pattinson in a breakout role as Connie Nikas, an on-the-lam criminal in New York City trying to bail his mentally disabled brother Nick out of jail following a failed bank heist. As he hustles to come up with the $10,000, his night snowballs into a frenzied crime spree that feels utterly surreal as it plunges him into the...

Happy End - Red Carpet Premiere

  Last night, I had the oppurtunity to attend the red carpet premiere of the French/Austrian film, Happy End, directed by Michael Haneke and starring Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Mathieu Kassovitz, Toby Jones, and the young Ms. Fantine Harduin.  Happy End is a heartbreaking and introspective story that follows a young girl, Eve (Harduin), who ends up living with her estranged father (Kassovitz) and his wealthy family after her mother attempts suicide. It...

Review: "Bilal" by Ayman Jamal a promising start for UAE animation

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Directors: Khurram H Alavi, Ayman Jamal Writer: Ayman Jamal Production company: Barajoun Entertainment United Arab Emirates, 109 mins Bilal is the debut of Dubai-based Barajoun Entertainment, and the first animated feature film to come out of the United Arab Emirates. In a mythical desert kingdom rendered in careful detail, a young slave strives for freedom. With spectacular set pieces and a sweeping scope, Bilal starts off on the right foot for a debut effort. In a mythical des...

Bilal: Animation Feature from the UAE at Cannes 2016 (Review)

  A seemingly conventional story for the eternal battle between good and bad transforms an ancient myth into an epic animation that can move both younger and older audiences.    Bilal is the story of a young slave who becomes the symbol of equality and freedom for his people, by turning against the tyrannic ruling of the wealthy and powerful and adopting a new faith. Originally inspired by one of the most widely known myths in Islam culture, this animation feature makes an at...

TIFF 15: The Wait - Interview with Piero Messina

Interview by Martin I. Petrov    Piero Messina is born in Sicily and has worked as an assistant director alongside Paolo Sorrentino for This must be the night and The great beauty (La Grande Bellezza). The wait is his first feature film and premiered in competition at the 72nd Venice Film Festival. The film was selected for the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 40th Toronto International Film Festival, where we met the director for an interesting chat on his first directoria...

TIFF 15: Stonewall (Review)

Stonewall, dir. by Roland Emmerich, US, 2015    “You ran away? You got kicked out? You feel lost? Welcome to New York!” is the welcoming line that takes us down to Christopher street in Greenwich village, where it all started.  Danny (Jeremy Irvine), a young teenager who just escaped family and hometown after his peers discover he is a homosexual, arrives in New York City to study at Columbia. Only that Danny’s nature brings him straight to the right place. ...

Louder Than Bombs (Competition) - Review

Louder than bombs, dir. Joachim Trier, US/ Norway 2015 - Cannes 2015 Competition    By Martin I. Petrov   How easy it is to forget the past if you’re reminded of it on every single step you make to design the future? Joachim Trier’s third film Louder than bombs, loud in emotions and precise in its storytelling, explores the consequences of forgiveness, betrayal, love and death.  Teaming up again with Eskil Vogt (Oslo, August 31, Blind) on the script, Trier ...

"Sea of Trees" Review: Why It Didn't Deserved To Be Booed

I have never been to a movie before that has been booed by more than a few people. Although, I was not at the press screening, it was reported that much of the audience received Gus Van Sant's new film "Sea of Trees" with much disappointment. The film stars oscar winner Matthew McConaughey as Arthur Brennan, who attempts to commit suicide in Japan's haunting forest.  Throughout the whole film, I thought to myself "why on earth would this get booed so drastically?&q...
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